Do any of these questions sound familiar? Have you heard them in your head all together, all at once? Sometimes it can be extremely overwhelming when there are so many thoughts happening at the same time.
In Forbes Magazine, Rachel Carrell writes about this fatigue. The term “mental load” is defined as “project management. And when it’s at work, that’s what we call it. Project management. Or just management. It’s a whole job. Yet when it’s at home, we call it, well, we don’t really have a word for it.” Whether you have kids or not, mental load is still a reality. Let’s call it the “worry load”. Am I good enough at my job? Am I working hard enough? Am I doing everything I’m supposed to so I can get ahead in my career? Am I making enough money so I can pay my student loan?
These are all real worries and as they pile up, they become too much.
How can we manage the mental load?
We’re not going to decrease the stimulus anytime soon. We’re still going to have a million emails in our inbox, a ton of things to remember to do after work and loads of emotional worries about getting it all perfect. So what can you do?
Schedule it out: Make a list. This should be adjusted to what type of list works best for you. If you’re a bullet journaler, write your tasks in there. If you have a planner, write everything down. Maybe put it on your phone and set an alarm to remind you. I’ve found I’m actually most effective if I schedule each task I need to complete on my work calendar. Even if this means a 10-15 min block of time, having it tied to time is really helpful. If for some reason I don’t get to that task, I can just click and drag that activity to later or the next day.
Find your way of not thinking: Research has shown that journaling or writing each day can help focus the mind and help you let go of the other conversations that overwhelm your mind. Another great option is meditation or yoga. The focus on your breathing and balance can leave no extra room for worries. For me, I find this in dance. While I’m making sure to not fall over, keeping my body in alignment and breathing, I can only focus on the task at hand. For you, it may be crafting, quilting or something else that’s relaxing. Find your activity so you can zone out.
Talk it out: This can be a friend or a mental health professional, but sometimes we get stuck in a loop where we need help to break free of the cycle. Talking through an issue can help you level-set your feelings and beliefs on the situation or sort out what’s happening so you can deal with it. It’s always ok to get help.
Get help: It takes a village. I’m not talking just about raising kids, but life really takes a village. Think about hiring a housekeeper to help with cleaning or get a food box to make dinner easier. You can even get a fully prepared meal service that delivers food you freeze until you’re ready to heat and eat. It’s ok to not be able to do it all.
How can we help others manage the mental load?
Lend an ear: Be the friend that listens. If requested, help write down or organize the thoughts and stresses so that your friend can better manage the load going forward.
Lend a hand: If you see something, help. I had a friend a few jobs ago who would ask if she could pick up lunch for me if she saw me fervently working at my desk. Since our company cafeteria closed at 2 p.m., sometimes being too busy around lunch meant not eating it. I was so incredibly grateful for the offer and the lunches she would bring back if I needed it.
Don’t Judge: I love the way this ABC article puts it, “This includes your friends, your family and yourself. Have a friend who always picks her child up three minutes after childcare closes? Stop judging. Have a friend who never irons her clothes? Stop judging.” Hear that negative voice in your head nagging you for not getting something done today? Stop judging! You have tomorrow to shine